Buried By Time & Dust: Insanity (USA)

insanity_logowtag

There’s a small but really killer core group of bands from the mid-80’s that I still tend to look back and think those guys should have been the leaders as far as the death metal genre goes, without taking anything away from the Florida/NY/Swedish titans such as Death, Obituary, Entombed, Morbid Angel, Incantation, etc.. This core group of bands includes proto-masters of what would soon be the determining dividing line between Thrash and Death Metal. Bands such as Master, Deathstrike, Archenemy(L.A.), Incubus(Florida), Devastation(Chicago), Pentagram(Chile), Necrovore(Texas), and a couple others. One of those that I am going to discuss is the still unspoken-of Insanity from California. Insanity, outside of possibly Possessed, were by far the most technical and tightest of all those earliest examples of proto-Death Metal bands from the tape trading circuit of the mid-80’s. Not to forget that Insanity were the only Death Metal band after Possessed to come out of the Bay Area while everyone else at that time was jammin’ to Thrash Metal. Also with that said, Autopsy doesn’t count seeing how they were from Oakland. They never really got the proper recognition nor the acclaim they deserved outside of the brummies from Napalm Death who would go on to cover one of their songs for the “Leaders Not Followers Prt.2” compilation which also included Master and Devastation for good cause. My question is really…..what went wrong? What kept them back from receiving the same possibility of getting onto a bigger label or a well-known label back then? That’s an age old question that constantly pops up when discussing any band that never made the impact that fans feel they should have that never really goes answered. Until now.

My personal knowledge about Insanity goes as far back as the late 90’s/early 00’s when Napalm Death first put out their original “Leaders Not Followers” E.P. on Relapse Records. Flipping through the CD booklet and seeing the old tour flyers from all of the pioneering extreme music bands, the one band logo that caught my eye the most was Insanity’s which I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t know how to properly make it out. I was still learning how to properly decipher old-school band logos and Insanity’s logo was a tough nut to crack. After carefully decoding the sunuvabitch like Rust Cole from True Detective, I scowled the internet for whatever information I could find. Mind you this was way before social media or Youtube so finding any sort of info was still a lesson in trying to teach yourself Greek or physics while only having a high school diploma to your name. I did finally come across the German metal webzine Voices From the Darkside where they put out what is probably the most in-depth interview and history of the band. This particular interview for me pieced the entire puzzle for me.  Let’s get the run-down of their discography and a Cliff Noted timeline.

Era 1:  Demo Days 1984 – 1989

From roughly 1984-1989, Insanity put out 5 demos ranging from rehearsals to pre-production. Majority of these songs, especially the bulk of demo #3, would end up on their debut album “Death After Death” which would be released in 1994. More about that LP later but let’s take a look at a couple of these demo versions shall we?


JAAAAYYYZUSS FUCK!

For a live rehearsal demo, and I’m hoping it’s the same one that is listed on Metal-Archives.com, this is beyond fucking excellent. For 1985, this is way heavier/faster/gnarlier/more evil than Anything Possessed did after “Seven Churches.” Far more technical than Master‘s rehearsal/unreleased album originally intended for Combat records of the same year. A good 2 years before Autopsy put out their first demo. Slightly more polished than Death‘s 1985 “Infernal Death” demo. Also a good year before Devastation from Chicago came into the picture with their classic “A Creation Of Ripping Death” demo. To give you an idea of what the sound is….think the technical work of Possessed mixed with the vocals of the first Kreator album with the injection of Wehrmacht‘s crossover thrash gauge of speed. For 1985 I honestly don’t think you could possibly get heavier than this demo. The 4 demos after this would more or less have the same sound production and same songs that would all end up on their debut album which brings us to it.

Era 2: “Death After Death” LP and then silence (1994 – 2001)

22336
Ok, I’ll be honest I waaaaaaay more prefer the original artwork version from their demo-era than this.

In 1994 Insanity finally, finally released their long overdue debut album “Death After Death” which was probably not the ideal time to do so. For a band that was part of a core group of tape-trading circuit bands to help flesh-out the skeletal remains of what would soon to be Death Metal, they sure picked the wrong time to unleash it seeing how it came after Death Metal’s peak and right as it was about to go on it’s downward spiral into the mid-90’s. With a relatively unknown German label called M.B.R.(Mangled Beyond Recognition), which is another thing that more than likely hurt the band in more ways than one. Originally signing a deal with them in ’91 and waiting almost 3 years to get the damn thing out to the possible masses, the album tends to tilt a bit more to the thrashier side of the coin that is Insanity’s music where as preserving the fact that these guys were ahead of the pack in their time. Majority of the songs that were recorded from the 1984-1989 period – at least those that showed up on their demos and rehearsal tapes – are all on there. Sound production is polished up a bit but that’s not a bad thing as it doesn’t sacrifice anything about the raw/razor-sharp technical prowess of Insanity’s music. And they took their old-school logo/demo cover artwork and cleaned that up as well….which I completely disagree with. That old-school logo w/severed heads on their demos was waaaay fucking cooler-looking and considering it was in 85 that they did that, that was long before bands like Cannibal Corpse really started pushing the boundaries of bad taste. So when it comes down to it, “Death After Death” isn’t a bad LP by any means. I think it was just a mild representation of Insanity being presented to the world at the wrong time on a label that took too fucking long to release it and this right here is probably the main reason why I have poor Insanity in the Buried By Time & Dust series. Not even a killer music video that was actually made (Yeah I honestly didn’t find out a few days prior to writing this inductee) could help get them to the next platform.


“Fuckin’ sweet!” – Fenriz

As an old-fuck myself, I love the old-school filters and effects done in this. Reminds me a lot of Voivod’s classic “Ravenous Medicine” music video with the green screen in the background. From roughly 94-’01, Insanity was sedated and fell into a coma and silence.

Era 3: 2001 to the elongated build-up to LP #2 “Visions Of The Apocalypse” in 2015

Insanity came back from the abyss in the form of a 3-song E.P. called “Sacrefixion” where it almost goes back to their “Death After Death” live rehearsal in terms of rawness and vocal-delivery power. And much like their first era of the band’s existence, only this time it lasted the next 16(!!!) years, they released 3 compilations of all their material they ever recorded in their entire existence. That’s a hell of a long time to get to the release of their 2nd LP “Visions Of The Apocalypse” which would be released on Unspeakable Axe Records.


Was it worth the wait?

Visions Of The Apocalypse” is really what their debut album SHOULD have sounded like in 1994. This is a waaaay better representation of the band as far as a full-length album goes and is way closer to the original spirit of their demo days. If you are a fan of old-school Morbid Angel, Death, Possessed, and Slayer…this is right up your alley! And yet…little to no mention of this from any source of publications and social media which blows my mind seeing how easy and blinding light speed everything travels these days with the press of a button.

FINAL ROMAN GRADE: One thumb up and one thumb down (Mixed reaction)

Insanity is one of those grey-area-rated bands that I seriously enjoy and respect. Even them admitting that the obstacles and set-backs they found themselves dealing with, it’s easy to forget that said set backs have hindered the band from gaining the recognition they truly deserve. And the fact they even pointed out that they should have promoted themselves a hell of a lot better speaks volumes as a functioning necessity of your craft in whatever you do in life. Other bands that came from the same time period and background have gone on to be recognized as the forefathers of the Death Metal genre (Master, Death, Repulsion, etc.) and while those other bands even got the same praise and cover treatment and support from the majors such as Napalm Death, Insanity still remain in the dusty corners of a time period that consisted of packages in the mail that may have contained a flyer or a letter giving thanks for support. Who knows, maybe it’s for the best in the long run. Could I sit here and honestly tell you I could have seen Insanity picked up by Nuclear Blast Records in the 90’s after seeing how they treated Paul Speckmann of Master? No. Absolutely not. Repulsion? They got the same little-to-no promotion treatment from Earache Records as well. Death even got a bit snubbed when they jumped from Combat Records to Roadrunner Records in terms of their sound changing. I think the positive silver lining is now there are record labels out there that are not willing to sacrifice the rawness that is Insanity(as with the band themselves) and both are trying to help preserve a small piece of history and of what once was. Maybe this is just like the old story of the tortoise and the hare, where Insanity is clearly the fucking tortoise in releasing new material and staying in the game as long as they have where other bands speed fast ahead and then decide to take a break, get lazy, and miss out on winning the damn race. For all my inquisitive questions and code-breaking on Insanity, I can safely say that the major bulk of their material, no matter what time frame it’s from, is fucking good if not a band that you should familiarize yourself with. For all you metal history buffs and nerds out there, if you need any more convincing on this band, then just re-read this entire post.

Advertisements

Buried By Time And Dust: Skinlab

Anyone who knows me be it in real life and as well on social media knows this one thing: I grimace and generally scowl at groove metal. With the exception of Exhorder and Pantera, I think the genre for the most part has completely stagnated to the point where there are no more surprises to be expected from it. I’m sure one can make the case for any metal sub-genre but it would be rather difficult to do so at this point when you read Decibel Magazine and see that the sub-genre is damn near nowhere to be found and if it is found it winds up in the pages of Revolver Magazine(yuck!). So where did this stagnation start? I’ve always wondered this and my theory is that it started roughly after the release of Pantera‘s “The Great Southern Trendkill” which to me was the death knoll of that thing that both said bands started and collectively ended. Pantera killed it in the best way possible by going as far as a groove metal band could and were not afraid to incorporate grind-esque blast beats, vocals from Anal Cunt‘s Seth Putnam, the moodiness and self-loathing depressive atmosphere of Alice In Chains and the respective middle finger to everyone that either rode their coattails and followed suite as far as fads/trends went in the 90’s. With that said, I think what has hindered and crippled the genre so much is the Pantera-worship. The idea that a band should focus on groove and nothing more and a tough guy “street’ image and mimicking Phil Anselmo’s demeanor but in the absolute most basic and stock-as-fuck way possible and amp it up with the most deplorable faux-alpha male overly aggro/testosterone stereotypes humanly possible. All of the most aggravating and annoying traits a person would want to try and pull off as something of their own. It’s nothing more than a pale shade of what Pantera and Exhorder did best. With the exception of Pissing Razors who weren’t the best but were at some level acceptable, the genre produced nothing more than a bunch of fucking posers in the worst sense. But again where did it start?

Skinlab. Skinlab more or less started this god-awful streak and not just for the genre but for themselves.

300x300

“Fuck yeah” – Rob Flynn

Skinlab was the Oakland, California  by-product of any and every person that was playing Bay Area Thrash in the early 90’s realizing that “You know what? All we are doing is just playing leftover Testament riffs that aren’t even nowhere as good as Testament” and jumping ship. Before Skinlab, Machine Head started this downward spiral of the sub-genre ball rolling when mainman SJW cuck Robb Flynn left Vio-lence who I might add were one of the best and brightest shining examples of Bay Area Thrash that could hold a candle and stand next to the likes of Dark Angel, Kreator, Sepultura, Demolition Hammer and a few others. But then Rob Flynn decided to start making riffs that sounded like a combo of Pantera and Biohazard and then BOOM! Commercial success with “Burn My Eyes“….therefore bringing upon the scourge and curse known as Groove Metal a.k.a Half-Thrash. Thrash Metal toned down to mid-tempo riffs and zero to no speed what-so-ever and has zero sonic delivery as say “Eternal Nightmare” or “Pleasure To Kill.” So once Machine Head gets success with said bastardized version of Groove Metal, guess who follows? Steeve Esquivel of then Bay Area band Defiance who had released a slew of 50th rate Thrash albums before he decided to jump on the same Groove Metal ship with newly-formed band called Skinlab. You would think that by doing this, Skinlab would get somewhere near the same success as Machine Head, but no. Complete fucking opposite. Why?

8aafdcce1d17da2ec16049312ec55ca8

MOST OVER-HYPED PIECE OF SHIT EVER RELEASED. EVER. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. GRADE: F-

Skinlab released two demos and an EP between 1995-1997 and then releasing their first full length in 1997 of the same year as their 2nd demo. That album would be called “Bound, Gagged, and Blindfolded.” Now what lead to this first album was that Steeve Esquivel was buddies with Robb Flynn and Robb Flynn passed the demo along to Century Media Records. Not only being privy to have open doors and opportunities but more so than a lot of bands at that time. Unfortunately in 1997, Groove Metal also suffered a serious blow with Pantera coming in and showing everyone the possibilities of where Groove Metal COULD go but nobody listened unfortunately. Including Skinlab. Instead Skinlab decided to re-write Machine Head‘s 2nd album titled “The More Things Change.” They re-wrote that album and decided to make it shittier. I mean fucking appalling. The music contained goes NOWHERE. I’ll give Machine Head credit that for a band that I dislike at least the riffs go somewhere; y’know there’s a build-up, and then the riffs go into a stock double-bass clicky riff or whatever. As stock as their shit is, their music goes somewhere. Skinlab‘s music is all about building up and then stopping and going into some weird noodly borderline Nu-metal Korn riff that’s just is that part where it’s all whisper-y to an autistic scream-like “I’m like an animal trapped in a cage…don’t rattle it because I’M ABOUT TO FREEEEK!1!1!” shit. And it’s damn near like this every fucking song on the album. Maybe 1 or two moments in the song “Race Of Hate” where there is a direction of where the riffs are going are present. But fuck that because after that song  we come to “Paleface” which is more melodramatic shit. Song titles such as “Paleface,” “Down,” “Dissolve,” and “Ten Seconds” just scream mid-to-late 90’s angsty-laziness. Even the lyrics are horrendous, let’s take a look at this teen angst written by then dudes in their 30’s:

Come on… bitch
Come on… watch the motherfucker burn
Come on… bitch
Come on… watch the motherfucker burn

Yeah, we get it bro. You like Coal Chamber. I remember how this fucking album was hyped to lord knows how much in Metal Maniacs in constant ads being put in by Century Media records. Damn near every single issue. In fact I remember listening to it as a teen and thinking this album was the most boring fucking thing I had ever heard. I’m soon to be 34 and I am the kind of person that has just recently and accepted Sepultura‘s “Roots” period. But the first Skinlab? Still sucks. Moving on.

At this period Skinlab is touring with the likes of Napalm Death and Crowbar which is typical mid to late 90’s type touring bills. My only guess is that the only reason they were able to tour with better and influential bands was that they had Century Media backing them and paying their way onto tour support and opening slots. They somehow payed and secured this “buzz” which overlapped onto their 2nd album “Disembody: The New Flesh.

171334

Close…but still no cigar. Grade: D+

This album is Skinlab‘s most ambitious attempt at trying to sound creditable and seem like they are taking themselves seriously. The big difference between this album and their steaming pile of shit first album is that “Disembody: The New Flesh” seems to be where Skinlab drops a lot of the overall wretchedness Groove Metal/Nu Metal ratty-ness and, for the first 3 songs….are actually tolerable. Not the worst, far from being the best, but these songs don’t make me cringe so hard. But that all goes to shit with the song “Scapegoat” which brings back that terrible attempt at trying to sound moody by donning some god-awful wannabe-Layne Staley  melodramatic vocals and their ability to pluck a fucking guitar string and then get LOUD again. “Breathe“…oh man, you can literally hear them contemplating on using a goddamn DJ and doing the wicky-wickey-whoo! effects over Steeve‘s rap-based lyrics. “I Name My Pain“….what the in living blue fuck is going on here? Spooky bro! That and boring! “Excellerate” then picks up and again…the fucking chorus with the melodramatic vocals. One of the few moments where they get past mid-tempo and then go right back into bullshit. Building up just to go nowhere. That’s a constant running trend in Skinlab‘s music. “Looks Can be Decieving” is a particular song title that I wish were to be true. I won’t go into every song but you get the jist. At the end of the day, if I was stuck in hell with Skinlab on loop I would prefer it to be this album because this again this is probably the only time where I’ve heard them take themselves seriously or attempt to make a decent song.

But the worst is yet to fucking come!

171337

Truly revolting. Grade: F

By this point Skinlab were poised to POSSIBLY turn-in a 3rd attempt at something worth owning, but by the time 2002 rolled around, Skinlab committed the worst crime known to man and caught whiff of the changing times and became a Nu-metal band. Ironically they had flirtings with Nu-Metal aspects before but they decided to give up on the possibility of making an album worth listening to and go for broke and say “Hey guys, you thought we were terrible and un-inspired before? Welp, here is us being completely shittier than before by our attempt at trying to cash-in on the mainstream.” It’s really that BAD. Like Nu-Metal terrible. To the point where I just start laughing at the idea of these dudes in their mid-30’s trying to jump da fuck up. I mean I aint even going to go into a detailed review of this album, just have a listen for yourself.


:autistic screeching intensifies: EVERYBODYGOTTHEIROWNASSONTHELINE!!1!1! REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

By this point Skinlab was touring for support of the Jagermister tour with Slayer and Slipknot. Go fucking figure. And then…silence. Golden silence for 7 years and we as not just music fans but Americans experienced a golden era devoid of bad groove metal, the bullshit, the baggy pants, the Airwalks, ball-chain wallets, the wiggerish hand gestures, dreadlocks. Devoid of dudes in their mid-30’s trying to sound like Jon Davis and Corey Taylor. We finally came to our senses…that was until a certain band thought it was cool to make Groove Metal a.k.a. “Real fuckin’ Metal” in the eyes of people by pandering their bullshit fake patriotism and covering Bad Company songs and making even Bad Company unlistenable. I’ll leave that up to you to figure that band out. And then out of nowhere Skinlab finds an excuse to make an attempt to come back with “The Scars Between Us” in 2009. The prodigal sons return and upon so completely confirming anyone’s suspicions of them POSSIBLY riding the coattails of others in several articles from Blabbermouth.net where he whined about the album “selling like shit” and started to name-drop certain bands and basically gave himself away. This was the last anyone has really heard from the band and thank-god for that. Ever since then whenever something about this band pops-up online as far as news/articles it’s always a random po-dunk “metal festival” with terrible local bands or just recently where they are doing a show in Mexico head-lining with….wait for it…..Crazy Town. LMFAO. Crazy Town? LOL. Fucking are you serious? I might have pulled a Carl the Cuck moment there but goddamn, doing a random show in Mexico with Crazy Town is some serious unfathomable depths to where bands past their due date go to perform in 3rd world shitholes where Groove/Nu-Metal is actually getting paid to perform. I mean, I guess those bootleg 3rd world copies of ‘Revolting Room” and bootleg band shirt are a hot ticket I suppose.

Final Roman Grade: I wish I had more hands so I can give this band 4 thumbs down!

On a final note about this band, I REALLY and I mean this from my deepest of hearts WANTED to like them. I guess their 2nd album might have been a ray of hope but alas, nope. No, what disproves any sort of credit from this band is the fact that Skinlab has more or less taken Robb Flynn‘s career of riding the coattails of whatever trend that was happening with mainstream metal and attempted to gain success and not even coming to a 10th of Robb Flynn‘s success. When Defiance wasn’t going anywhere, and Machine Head got popular, Steev jumped ship with Skinlab. When Groove Metal waned thru the late 90’s and Machine Head went Nu-Metal, so did Steeve. And here’s the terrible part of this whole coattail riding trend; Skinlab‘s 4th album attempted at the “real Metal” aka mainstream metal by basically pulling a Machine Head ONLY to have done it 7 years AFTER Robb Flynn hopped on the “real Metal” fad when Metalcore/Ozzfest Hardcore got popular because everyone thought Nu-metal blew. Basically all of Skinlab‘s shortcoming’s all fall upon frontman Steev.  And for a guy who whines in articles about shortcoming’s claims to be influenced by respected 90’s juggernauts such as Neurosis, Crowbar, Nailbomb, Acid Bath, etc. it’s really a bullshit attempt at trying to derive the attention that you as a musician who had more opportunities available to you from the start and fucking squandered them. You see the main reason why said bands were successful was that they were ORIGINAL. Holy shit! Go figure. Did Neurosis ever ride the coattails of Amebix or Joy Division or any of their other influences? Hell no. Neurosis took their influences and EXPANDED and conveyed something that had not been heard before and didn’t rely on just fucking groove and Airwalks and Robb Flynn to appeal to music fans. Did Crowbar ride the coattails of Exhorder? Opposite. They slowed everything down and found a a certain sound and tone that has become synonymous with the New Orleans Sludge Metal scene. Same goes for Acid Bath. Nailbomb was a complete experimentation with Industrial Metal that was a departure from Max Cavalera‘s main band Sepultura. Another possible reason why this band never had much going for them is how Steeve Esquivel is known to be a bit of a dickhead. As pointed out in an interview/article  with ex-Skinlab guitarist Scott Sargeant on Blabbermouth from 2004 that the frontman is even not looked upon fondly by his ex band mates. As I type this, I forgot to mention that Steev Esquivel started a Hard Rock/Metal band called Dedvolt which sounds like a terrible attempt at who knows what the fuck he wants to sound like. Look on Youtube and you’ll find some videos which includes an……acoustic Puscifer cover??? :shakes head: Whatever the dude wants to do at the end of the day is his choice. Even if I consider them to be extremely weak choices.

Moral of the story: If you’re a musician, don’t ride the coattails of a coattail rider. Make an honest attempt at writing good music. Just don’t pull a Skinlab.

Buried By Time And Dust: Necrophagia

Hear ye, hear ye! Welcome to 2017 and welcome to a new article series titled “Buried By Time And Dust” where I discuss bands that got swallowed up in the past who weren’t necessarily bad but for whatever reason….they either made a lot of bad decisions or just never got the respect they truly deserve. The first band I am going to discuss is Wellsville, Ohio’s very own Necrophagia. And already this one I have a queasy feeling about due to the nature of their music and how long I am going to discuss about this band.

For those that don’t know up until this point, Necrophagia is a band that has always claimed it, or at least during the first half of their existence, to be a Death Metal band. They have a rich history of falling short of said music genre. Unpopular Metal Opinion; I think “Season Of The Dead” is the absolute weakest Death Metal album of all time. And I am not even saying that in a negative or harsh way either. I actually enjoy the album to a certain degree, but I’m not going to fool myself and try to convince myself that I would pick that particular album over say….”Seven Churches” or “Scream Bloody Gore” or even the unreleased 1984 Master LP or anywhere NEAR Devastation‘s “Creation Of Ripping Death” demo or Death Strike‘s “Fuckin’ Death” demo.

Now let me back-track a bit here. Necrophagia being a band that either goes un-mentioned whenever the history of Death Metal is discussed or given heaps of unnecessary shit upon after 1997, depending on where you stand, is NOT the greatest band in the world. They are definitely NOT the absolute worst piece of shit band either. No, for Necrophagia their curse is that they and the cult-like fanbase that they have, define them as A death metal band, but the problem with THAT is they honestly have never come close to the actual definition let alone actual sound. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either. I can accept different bands/arists/musicans that are not cookie-cutter. I can accept diversity in my jamz…..but if we are calling a band Death Metal, I expect some fucking death metal. Especially when it comes to 80’s-era material.

Let’s look at the evidence shall we?

seasonofthedead

This is supposed to be cult….right guys???

First off the music itself which is not bad, it’s the types of riffs and the guitar tone. It’s NOT Death Metal. Not by a long-shot. It’s basically Thrash/proto-Death-thrash. Which is something that both early Kreator and early Sepultura were both called at one point or actually sounded like…..but rarely does it anywhere near the level of heaviness of say “Pleasure To Kill” or “Morbid Visions.” I mean, it doesn’t even get anywhere close to “Seven Churches” either, and that’s a big one for those who know their metal history. I think the problem with this is that it may have had to do something with their record label at the time, New Renaissance Records, and the budget gave the band. Whatever the reason, the music itself just falls flat and damn near wayside to just about everything else that was released in the 80’s as far as extreme metal goes. Need I dare mention the underground tape-trading circuit at the time which was burgeoning with so many now classic and cult bands. And it’s really sad to because the riffs aren’t bad, far from it, but that handful of times growing-up I heard this being called “legendary” and “innovative”……ehh, sorry I just don’t see it.

Now past the music, the imagery and lyrics, it’s prime Death Metal material and to a certain point I would actually consider those two factors to DEFINITELY being ahead of their time. Well, that would be a bit generous….let’s just say that they definitely gave birth to the whole “Horror Metal” genre because it’s more horror-related than say Chuck Schuldiner screaming “I celebrate a faggot’s death!” on the first Death album “Scream Bloody Gore.” Which ironically Necrophagia started putting out demos the same year the very first Death demo was unleashed upon the world and changing metal history. So even with from a lyrical standpoint, Necrophagia isn’t quite making the Death Metal cut. Maybe at the time it was considered ahead of the curve, but by the time 1987 rolled around, both albums came out….and Necrophagia fell into obscurity while Death would basically go on to the the forefathers. And when I talk about obscurity, I mean no fucking mention of them until their 3rd album that most people consider their 2nd album but the even sadder fact is that their 2nd album was actually supposed to be Necrophagia‘s DEBUT full-length album in 1986, rumors say that due to (alleged) illegal activities of the band and the explicit nature of the recording/lyrics the master tape was confiscated or stolen, but a copy of the mastertape resurfaced in 1990 and was bootlegged by the fake label “Embalming Records” on black vinyl (1000 copies) and cassette tape (unknown copies). After New Renaissance Records came to an agreement with the fake bootleg label they labelled it as an official bootleg afterwards and took over distribution of the remaining copies, then released a “collector’s edition” reissue on green vinyl without sleeve in a plastic sleeve. This reissue was limited to 500 copies according to the 1991 newsletter.

ARE YOU FUCKING CONFUSED YET? BECAUSE I SURE AS FUCK AM!

By this point in this history…..not a fucking person even mentioned them. No mention of anything in any sort of magazine publication or anything, just flat-out zero proof of existence, until around 1997 when a certain Philip H Anselmo of 90’s megastars Pantera, somehow got involved with Killjoy and exhumed that corpse of a band into a huge re-introduction to a new generation of metal fans either those who had forgotten about them of like myself that had no clue about them but gave the band a shot due to Phil being in the band. It was no secrete that Phil went under the moniker stage name of Anton Crowley (Good lord….how unoriginal and high school can one get?), and truth be told out of everything I’ve said so far, this was probably their best era as far as their music goes. Phil Anselmo, regardless of how much he and the rest of the band got heapfull amounts of shit from the underground, made the band sound more interesting and probably the closest to the actual term ‘Death Metal’ that they ever got to. This brought forth their 3rd album “Holocausto De La Morte.”

It’s actually pretty good.

Already we see a massive improvement with the artwork which is obvious a complete and total homage/tribute to the Italian Horror zombie flicks that director Lucio Fulci made in the zenith halcyon of the early to mid 80’s. In comparison to the artwork to “Season Of The Dead“, we actually get a clearer picture of the gore-infested horror metal and an actual Death Metal atmosphere for the first time. Not that “Season of The Dead” didn’t have a good horror vibe/atmosphere, but this is definitely closer to say, Mortician, in terms of artwork goes. Musically, this is one of the first few attempts where Phil Anselmo contributes and mainly creates most of the guitar riffs and it’s….slightly…what you would expect from the ragin’ Cajun himself. It’s very sludgy Sabbath/Celtic Frost with hints of the occasional hardcore punk-esque breakdown which all contributes to an almost sloppy Autopsy feel to it which ironically shortly after this, Necrophagia mainman Killjoy would later on go on to do a collaberation with Autopsy drummer legend Chris Reifert. Not only is the music more closer to the actual sound and definition of Death Metal, but even Killjoy‘s vocals are waaaaaaaay better.

With said album being released and even given a huge article in Metal Maniacs (which yes I did read that particular issue as a wee young lad), you would think it would somehow elevate their status? Wrong. Necrophagia got heaps of shit mercilessly heaped upon them by the shovel-full. In a bygone era where elitism existed and was encouraged, people called it either a joke, overhyped, etc. This was particularly due to the fact that Phil Anselmo was not only in the band but many claimed that this was his “attempt at gaining his underground cred.” Which even then I thought was simply preposterous. Even in an interview in the infamous Norwegian Slayer Mag fanzine, specifically issue #15 where it seemed like Metalion of all people was giving Killjoy the space to speak and actually give all the reasoning and defending of his new guitarist and best friend. Combined this album and the short-lived defunct side-project with Eibon which not only had Satyr of Satyricon, Fenriz of Darkthrone, but Killjoy and Phil…..a lot of people thought it was a total fucking joke or another attempt to make the underground seem “cool.” Gotta remember the time period I am speaking of which was the 97-2001 time period. The underground hivemind, including myself which I admit I was young and stubborn as well, thought that was the absolute worst thing to do at the time. Looking back, Killjoy lucked the fuck out that he got such a huge well-known frontman playing guitar in his band. Do I consider what Phil did to be right? I’ve always been a fan of whatever he has done excluding some of his side bands such as Superjoint Ritual……but that’s neither here nor there and I don’t want to get too far off track with this article.

Necrophagia would continue with this particular line-up and period with some splits and EPs and compilations of their older material and demos. The best material that came past “Holocausto De La Morte“, IMO, would be the “Black Blood Vomitroium” EP and the split with Sweden’s Antaeus (also on Killjoy‘s Baphomet Records at the time). Past that a compliation and a 2nd EP titled “Cannibal Holocaust” which would also be the last with Phil Anselmo due to obligations with Pantera. It’s a bit of a bummer because this was when Necrophagia was REALLY getting good but by the time “Cannibal Holocaust” was released, you could tell that this creative streak and collaboration with Phil Anselmo was definitely coming to an end. Whatever was going on, the good riffs that sounded good were not there.

There was also a certain issue which just right when you think Necrophagia was starting to gain whatever in the underground, they released on VHS a home video of the band called “Through Eyes Of The Dead” which became a laughingstock or at least whomever I would chat/talk with on the Full Moon Productions messageboards(Believe it, Comrades!) . I remember picking the tape up through Metaldisc and eagerly awaiting it.

WORST FUCKING MISTAKE EVER.

It was nothing short of a cringe-fest. I’m extremely positive they went into it with the very best of intentions as far as making a live performance of the band mixed with band interviews and a sort of trilogy of gore-obsessed stories. But whatever their primary objective with it as far as making the goriest metal band video of all time, it was just absolute fucking rubbish. I seriously felt cheated and mind you at that age I was obsessed with all the gory films of the 70’s/80’s Video Nasties that were banned in Europe. I searched out for uncut copies of Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, Umberto Lenzi, Bruno Mattei, etc. films. But “Through the Eyes Of The Dead” was just nothing but shock value. It had zero substance to the gore and the attempt to be over-the-top was just embarrassing. I seriously wanted to like it too. But it was and defined everything that I felt was corny-as-fuck.

After this debacle, Necrophagia seemed to slowly but surely fade back into obscurity. They didn’t break-up but kept releasing album are split after ep after single after album. I won’t go too much into those because out of what I’ve heard from them, they were very uninteresting/boring/whatever but I did listen to their latest album titled “Whiteworm Cathedral” which actually wasn’t THAT bad but it didn’t warrant a purchase from myself. At the end of the day and with all respect due Necrophagia is NOT a terrible band by any means. They do have good albums. They know how to write catchy horror-obsessed songs. I think the main problem was that Phil Anselmo got attached to them and brought the attention and when he left so did a large portion of their fans including myself. Don’t think I am just using this as a means of shit-talking or to bad-mouth the band. As with any fan of any band, we all have our favorite moments from whatever band. Some are more vocal. Some are more brutally honest. I happen to be both unfortunately.

To sum this first submission into the Buried By Time & Dust series, at the end of every article I will give a nice little Roman thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Thumbs up meaning they didn’t deserve to not get any bigger, thumbs down meaning they never had much going for them in the first place and deserve to be banished to the passing of time and long forgotten memories.

My verdict: Thumbs up. They definitely did deserve better for being one of the first types of bands to fuse horror/gory films and proto-death metal together. They didn’t deserve the heaping piles of shit thrown at them. Phil deserved more credit than he got for doing something pretty radical at a time when no other major superstar was waving the underground flag when the underground wasn’t ‘cool’….and they at least deserve more mention of them by the metal press. Regardless of whatever negative shit I have said, they deserved a hell of a lot better and more. Unfortunately Necrophagia isn’t the only band to suffer this terrible fate nor will they be the last. I just could have done without that fucking home video.